How to Build an Oil-Can Guitar

By Contributor ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Square oil can
  • Detergent and paper towels
  • 1 by 2 piece of poplar, 3-feet long
  • Electric drill, .5-inch drill bit and several small screws
  • Box cutter or tin snips
  • Sand paper
  • Tuning pegs and guitar strings
  • Paint and paint brushes
Build an Oil-Can Guitar

How to Build an Oil-Can Guitar. The first oil-can guitars were made in Africa and were called ramkiekies. Today these are still the first instruments many folk musicians learn to play. They are well known for their simplicity. Although you can pay more than $500 to purchase a professionally-made oil-can guitar, you can also gather the needed components and build one yourself.

Clean the oil can. Rinse it out with a detergent solution. Then use the paper towels to clean any residue out of the oil can.

Drill 15 or 20 small holes in the front of the oil can. These will allow the sound to come out of your guitar. Drill four or six more small holes in the bottom of the oil can. This is where you will attach your guitar strings.

Trace around the end of the 1 by 2 on the top of the oil can. Use a box cutter or tin snips to cut this square piece out of the top of the can.

Sand the neck of the guitar smooth. Then insert it into the end of the oil can and use your drill to attach it with several small screws. Drill four or six small holes in the top of the guitar's neck.

Thread the guitar strings up through the small holes in the bottom of the oil can, across the front of the can and along the neck of the guitar. Wrap the strings around the tuning pegs and tighten or loosen the pegs to tune the guitar.

Paint the oil can if you want to decorate your oil can guitar.

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